Beautiful Day for a Science Fair

Itís a beautiful Saturday morning in October as the chemistry department from the local high school prepares for a community exhibit and fair.  Dozens of parents and students arrive at the school just before 10 am and congregate in the school cafeteria.  The exhibits show many projects the students have worked on during the semester and everyone is enjoying the day.  Some of the students are performing a live demonstration when something goes wrong.  The chemicals overheat and an explosion sends a cloud of gas throughout the cafeteria.  Many people are overcome by the fumes and began collapsing on the floor.  Some make it to the exits and out of the building gasping for air, an emergency alarm is sounded and 911 is called.

Within moments the first police officer arrives and he too is overcome by the fumes.  As additional police and fire rescue units arrive the evacuation is begun and the Hazmat team begins decontamination of the victims.  The local hospitals are notified of the number of victims and the EOC is activated to coordinate the efforts.  Busses are brought in to provide transportation for the walking wounded to the hospitals and Amateur radio is requested.  Ron Huss, KC8YVF, EC of Saginaw County ARES begins the call up and members of the ARES team report to staging at the Red Cross.  Dave, N8ERL, assistant EC then assigns operators to the incident scene, hospitals, EOC and other locations to provide communications and tracking of the busses.  The health department is also called to analysis the effects of the chemical exposure and advises the hospitals. 

As the busses arrive at one local hospital, two students disappear and are feared lost in the nearby wooded area.  Police are called and the search and rescue team is dispatched to the scene.  Amateur radio is requested to provide communications for the search.  One student is found a short distance away while the other is still missing and the search is expanded.  As darkness falls, a message is received at the command center that the second student has been located and is being brought to the hospital for treatment. 

The exercise began at 9 AM on Saturday October 1, 2011 and was conducted over a two day period.  The State of Michigan also conducts an amateur radio drill on the same day of the ARRL exercise and formal messages between the State EOC and the county EOC were passed. 

During the first day of the local exercise, Saginaw County ARES (SCARES) provided voice communication on both the 147.240 MHz 2 meter repeater and simplex frequencies and packet communications on 220 MHz between the EOC, 911, 3 local hospitals, the Red Cross, City Fire and Incident Command.  The state portion of the drill was conducted on the District 145.310 MHz repeater located in Bay County Michigan.  At one time the State of Michigan reports that the district repeater had a simulated failure and all district communications would be switched over to the local Saginaw repeater.  Since we were using this repeater for net control of our local exercise, this forced an unplanned change to simplex frequencies for net control.  This switch went off without a hitch and the state and local exercises continued.

  The search and rescue was conducted on Thursday October 13, 2011 and involved Saginaw County ARES, Midland County Search and Rescue team and the Saginaw County Citizens Corps.  The entire two day drill involved over 20 amateur radio operators from both Saginaw and Midland Counties and many local served agencies.  Saginaw County ARES serves a community of 200,000 residents and is supported by the Saginaw County Emergency Management department and the Saginaw County Emergency Preparedness council.

Emmett W8EAB working the radios at 911

George N8NPW making a contact with the State EOC

Debrief session after the exercise.
(from left to right; Mike N8XPS, Ron KC8YVF, John KC8WZM, Duane KD8AUI,
Steve KD8FQL, Emmett W8EAB)


Revised 01/17/21